Student safety continues to be a hotbed issue for Arizona’s universities.
Focus has been strong on alcohol-related crimes, and some high-profile incidents have brought on stern responses from University police and surrounding city police departments.
The Arizona Board of Regents is the latest to respond to the growing concern over student safety, after President Eileen Klein announced Monday in a statement that the board will create a task force to review student safety.
The board will hear a summary of activities, campaigns and community outreach programs at its regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 26 in Flagstaff.
ABOR Public Affairs Director Sarah Harper said the task force’s makeup has yet to be determined, but it will look to address the student safety needs and concerns of Arizona’s three public universities.
“What they want to do is a tri-university task force,” she said.
That tri-university task force would look to be a collaborative effort to tailor individual suggestions for each school to address those needs, Harper said.
ABOR Chairman Rick Myers said the board has met with student groups, apartment complex owners, campus police and other organizations in an effort to identify ways to prevent issues.
“We’re trying to involve all the different stakeholders,” Myers said. “We want to be reaching out and talking with different student groups on all three of our university campuses.”
He said the board has also met with the presidents from NAU, UA and ASU to begin figuring out ways to bring all those moving parts together to open up dialogue and work to identify solutions.
“The idea is, ‘How do we make this better than it is?’” Myers said. “There are too many incidences that are occurring, and we’re trying to figure out what we can do to help minimize those situations.”
The board has also looked for input outside of those immediately affected or involved in the three universities by looking at what other schools across the country have done. They have even written letters to national fraternity and sorority organizations for suggestions, Myers said.
Morgan Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer, who oversees the ASU Police Department and the University’s emergency planning, said it’s important for the three universities to be in contact with each other and share safety ideas between schools.
“If somebody else has a great idea that’s worked for them, we’re definitely going to take a look at that,” Olsen said. “No sense in trying to reinvent the wheel if there is a perfectly round one for use.”
When the board meets later this month, Myers said they would look to begin solidifying the details of the task force, such as who will be involved and the timeline of operation.
“We absolutely don’t want this to just be talk,” Myers said. “We want new creative ideas to come from this.”
Myers said he wants to see results from the task force and that he expects to see the suggestions and ideas institutionalized and implemented to bring about a safer environment for Arizona’s college students.
While the task force’s effect remains to be seen, Olsen said the first line of student safety is always in the hands of students themselves.
“Often times students are in a position of substantial decision making … maybe for the first time in their life they’re away from home and have a lot of freedoms,” Olsen said. “We’re all here to teach and learn in the ASU community, and we want to encourage people to act in a way that forwards that.”
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